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What exactly is happening in the case of the Jan Lokapal Bill ?




Ever since August, when Anna launched his fast, which was such a huge success in terms of getting the Government to move from not contemplating any changes in the Government version of the Lokpal bill, to a state where Parliament had accepted most of the propositions of Anna (without actually committing to the Bill). The Government was desperate to get the fast ended, and decided to postpone the eventuality by sending the various versions of the Bill to the Standing Committee of Parliament, which in turn would talk to most of the people involved and then finally work out a version of the Bill, which would be sent back to Parliament. For this, the Government had committed in writing to Anna that they would do this in the winter session of Parliament, which is due to start pretty soon.
In the meantime, the Government started its usual smear campaign against the various members of Anna’s team, coupled with some dodgy actions of the team, and also some practices that were more controversial. So, you had Kiran Bedi getting money for her NGO by charging various organizers of events full business fare, and actually going by economy (but the full exposure of this must have gladdened the heart of the Congress side); then you had the discredited Swami Agnivesh creeping out of his hole to allege that money collected during the entire fast was actually taken to Arvind Kejriwal’s NGO (later stated that this was by design, and with full audits revealed of the collection); and Prashant Bhushan making statements of plebiscite in Kashmir, something that does not sit well with the middle class, and did not sit well with Anna. However, if the argument is that only those who have not done anything wrong can campaign against corruption, then we might as well give up and let the corrupt (of the thousands of crores as well) get what they want.

Further, Anna and his core team decided to try and put more pressure on the Congress by campaigning against the Congress candidate in Hisar, which the Congress was really not expecting to win (even though it put in a lot of effort to try and win the seat, or atleast get something respectable in the contest); now, the problem with this was that a number of people saw this as Anna getting into competitive politics, as opposed to just campaigning against corruption. Further, the people expected to win were not exactly paragons of virtue either, and thus Anna was criticized for supporting other corrupt people. This in turn caused a couple more people of the core committee to leave, uncomfortable with this political bent (although most people had not heard of these people being in the core committee).
Now, the Government seems to be treating anti-corruption measures as something that they would want to trumpet as their achievements, and so want to bring a Lokpal bill. However, they also seem to risking anything confrontation with Anna, since the latest statements indicate that they want to leave the lower babudom out of the Lokpal (which was a strong demand of Anna); but the Government does want to go in for a citizen’s charter kind of Bill. What would add pressure to the Congress is that the BJP ruled state of Uttarakhand is going to implement the Jan Lokpal bill as envisaged by Anna, and trumpet this as an achievement.
The winter session is going to be interesting. Anna will keep on adding to the pressure on the Government, and the Government is already bristling against the statements by Anna.




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